William Douglas has been writing The Color of Hockey blog since 2012. Douglas joined in 2019 and writes about people of color in the sport. Today, he profiles the Los Angeles Kings' Mexico City Jr. Kings youth program and its players that are competing for the Mexico Warriors U-14 team at the 2023 Amerigol LATAM Cup.

CORAL SPRINGS, Fla. --Patricio and Paolo Monsalve say they want to follow Daniel and Henrik Sedin's footsteps and become the first Mexican twins to play in the NHL.

"Better," Patricio said with a smile.

The 12-year-old brothers from Mexico City are working their way up the hockey ladder, representing their country playing for the Mexico Warriors Under-14 team at the 2023 Amerigol LATAM Cup.

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They're also proud to be representing the Los Angeles Kings' Mexico City Jr. Kings program at the Aug. 23-27 tournament at the Florida Panthers IceDen, the team's practice facility.

The Monsalve brothers and Mexico Warriors teammate Rodrigo Porter have all participated in the Kings' program created to help grow the sport south of the border.

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Los Angeles has been involved in Mexico City since 2018, when they held clinics there. They expanded their foothold in the city when they established a partnership with Ice World Santa Fe, a rink in a Mexico City shopping mall.

The Kings have dispatched former players like Derek Armstrong and Mike Weaver as well as Blake Bolden, a Kings scout and inclusion specialist to Mexico City, to help run camps.

"It's really special because we have different coaches," Paolo said. "Our coach right now whos' coaching us is a skills and technique coach and he works on our edges."


Armstrong, a former Kings forward who is a member of the club's hockey development department, said the presence of the Mexico City Jr. Kings players at the LATAM Cup shows that their grassroots efforts in Mexico are paying off.

"The kids really want to learn," he said. "To see progression, especially with the Mexico City Jr. Kings, it's been awesome and hopefully we can continue to go down there to grow the game. We enjoy going down there to see the progress."

The Mexico City Jr. Kings players on the Warriors team at the LATAM Cup said they're using the tournament as a barometer of the skills they've learned at home.


The tournament features teams representing Argentina, Armenia, Chile, Colombia, Egypt, Greece, Israel, Lebanon and Venezuela, along with teams composed of players of Caribbean and Central American Heritage.

More than 750 players representing 21 countries and territories are competing in six divisions, including men's Division I and II, a women's bracket, and U-12, U-14 and U-16 groups.

"I hope this tournament gives me more competition, activity," said Rodrigo, who named his dog Bauer after the equipment. "There's a lot more body contact here than in Mexico, so I hope this shows me the different levels."


Francisco X. Rivera, the Kings Spanish radio play-by-play announcer and a team consultant, said the LATAM Cup helped give birth to the Mexico City Jr. Kings programs.

"I believe the exposure of the LATAM Cup to Latin American countries was sort of the inspiration for us to expand into Mexico City," he said. "Seeing what LATAM Cup and the Mexico Warriors were doing, we were like, 'Hey, Mexico City's a good destination for us. We started doing what we're doing with the Santa Fe (rink) for the last four years."

Rodrigo Gutierrez Porter, Rodrigo's father, credits the Mexico Jr. Kings program, along with retired professional hockey players and some coaches from Russia relocating to Mexico, with helping the sport grow.

"I think it's very helpful on two fronts, said Porter, who was a goalie for the Mexican national team from 2001-04. "The first front is the name. Saying that it's a junior program of the L.A. Kings, it gets a lot of kids, which is great. On the other side, to give structure to it, we try to go to L.A. at least once a year for tournaments and there are coaches who are going to Mexico to give hockey camps during the season."


Porter said he'd like to see more NHL teams involved in Mexico. Dallas Stars community hockey development staff and former players have also traveled to Mexico City over the years to give clinics.

"I think it can be Kings, it can be Stars, it can be Arizona Coyotes," he said. "It's what I call the chicken or the egg. In Mexico, hockey is very small, but every time they hear about hockey, people get super excited."

In the meantime, the Mexico City Junior Kings playing for the Mexico Warriors are just excited to be competing at the LATAM Cup.

"It's special coming in and representing Mexico," Patricio said. "They won't see you as the Warriors, they will mainly see you as Mexico hockey. So, what you do impacts Mexico hockey, not only the Kings or the Warriors."

Photos: Courtesy of Aubrey Corkum